being a teacher, classroom setup, Reading

How I Organize My Books

A question I often get asked is how my books are organized in our classroom.  The system is really simple and one that many people use,  so I thought I would share here to help others.  I have used this system in 4th, 5th and 7th grade but have seen younger grades use this as well.  I do not level my classroom library.

I have more than 1,000 books in my library.  I am not sure how many exactly but it keeps growing.  And so my library is an ever growing work in progress.  Book shelves are a mix of what my school graciously purchased for me and ones that I could secrue from family.


Most of my books are organized in bins, I have found this to be the easiest way for students to find books, as well as it being appealing to them.   Bins are grouped into several categories, some by genres, some by theme, some by author.  Students will suggest new bins as they see fit, for example this year we added a “War” bin and a “Cassandra Clare” bin.  I use clear bins like these because they fit all books and provide students with covers that may entice them.  For larger books, I use this type of bin since they fit my large books and picture books as well.  I also use this size bin as my “Return books here” bin.  The bins have stickers on them (address stickers) with the bin name and the abbreviation below it.  So a bin might say “Realistic Fiction (RF)”  on its sticker.  RF is then also the designation that is put inside of the book underneath my stamp.

Large bins for collections, poetry and others
Small bins for all of my books, I just remove the lids.

Most of my picture books are simply shelved on one bookcase.  Students know that the entire bookcase is dedicated to picture books and put them back as needed.  I have decided not to organize by author as it took too much time to keep up with it.  As long as they have their own separate bookshelf, I have no problem.  All non-fiction texts are also housed on a separate bookshelf and I have slowly started to group those texts together as well.  These are mostly grouped by theme and are a work in progress because I need more bookshelf space.


Finally, one of the best things I have ever purchased for my library was a stamp!  I purchased this type of stamp 2 years ago and it has been amazing.  No more having to write out labels, no more mess.  Books are stamped on the inside upper right corner as well as on the closed pages of the books (vertically when the book is closed I stamp it for parents to see my name).  I then add then genre or bin abbreviation under the stamp so students know where the book belongs.  This stamp has meant many more books have been returned to me and one of the best $6 I ever spent, plus when the ink runs out you just buy a new inkpad, wahoo.

There you have it, a quick peek into the organization of my library, I hope it was helpful.

9 thoughts on “How I Organize My Books”

  1. I did, I have used this system in 4th, 5th, and 7th but have seen K and 1st grade teachers use it as well. I do not level my books since the “outside” world is not leveled. I could write a whole blog post on it but that is the biggest reason.

  2. I have tried many book organizing systems and I currently use the basket system that Pernille uses and that has worked well for years. The only difference I have is the baskets. I purchased colored baskets from Really Good Stuff. I number the baskets by color and put a numbered colored dot on the back of the book that corresponds to the basket and number color. When I first started teaching in third grade, I did level the books through scholastic but quickly realized after doing it, that it was not a benefit for my students and not something recommended by many of the people I began to network with. I currently teach fifth grade and also just recently purchased three of the stamps to use to mark my books. Pernille, you have so many good ideas that I have used in my classroom. I have used address labels, written my name, but I really liked the stamp. I got away from marking many of my books so my students started helping. I still have many to get stamped at the beginning of the next school year. A job for my next students!

  3. Hi Pernille –

    Do you have a list of the categories/themes that you use to organize your books? I would love to do the same. I’m just a little overwhelmed with organizing all of my books. A starter list of each category would be helpful. Thank you!

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